Thursday, April 30, 2009

American Birth Culture as Reflected on Youtube

I'm not a huge Youtube-er, but I do spend a fair amount of time there watching birth videos. Whenever I watch a video, I always take a moment to scan through the user comments at the bottom and see what people have to say. First of all, I would like to note that there are a lot of rude, immature people on Youtube who seem to spend most of their time leaving cruel and hurtful comments (and this is on all videos, not just birth videos). But secondly, I see several recurring themes interwoven into comments left on birth videos, and I wanted to share a few thoughts. This is a casual, stream-of-thought blog entry, not a carefully-studied paper, so I would like to say in advance that my observations may be wrong (and will certainly be incomplete). I'd love to hear from anyone out there who has additional input!

Two things: First, I am assuming that Youtube is a reflection of American culture. I know that this is not entirely correct; however, I think that a majority of viewers of English-language videos are probably American (or at least Western). Secondly, I'd like to apologize in advance for the crude vulgarity of item #3!

And so, onto some (summarized) comments that I commonly see on Youtube birth videos:

(1) "What is that weird thing that comes out after the baby?" (referring to the placenta)

Conclusion: We are pretty ignorant about the basics of birth.

Thoughts: Is this a bad thing? From my point of view, yes... but I was just as ignorant (or more so) before my son was born. I had no idea what a placenta was (I thought it was another term for the amniotic sac). I'd never heard of a cervix, or of the stages of labor... or anything else, really. Now that birth is very important to me I am sorry over the mass populace's ignorance, but if I was writing another health blog (about cancer or liver disease, for example) I'd probably be just as horrified over the population's ignorance over that issue. So this is just a thought, not a condemnation.

(2) "Oh my gosh, that (the birth) was so gross. I'm gonna puke."

Conclusion: We see birth as "icky, eww yuck, gross"

Thoughts: This is really sad. Birth is one of the most beautiful miracles of human existence. HOWEVER, I do also acknowledge that birth art and birth photos/videos are a learned taste. I don't know what I would have thought of some of the more baring-all birth videos three years ago before I got into birth culture. But I do think it sad that someone should look at birth and be revolted, regardless.

(3) "Why doesn't she shave? That is so disgusting."

Conclusion: ?????

Thoughts: I've run across this one several times, even one time in the writings of an L&D nurse. And I must admit to... puzzlement. Did I miss out on something? Was there a great movement of American women toward shaving their pubic hair? Or is it just guys with weird tastes who are writing these comments? I don't generally inquire into the shaving habits of my friends, family and acquaintances, so I guess I'm not up on the subject. However, I have never seen a birth video in which a woman had shaved her pubic hair, so I'm guessing this is a fringe thing. Frankly, I think it would be sad if popular culture began demanding that women denude themselves of a natural secondary sexual characteristic... Not that I have a problem with any woman shaving her pubic hair off, but I would hate to see it become yet another fashion "requirement." But anyhow, that was weird. When I'm watching a birth video, the last thing I'm thinking about is whether or not the woman shaved.


Thoughts, anyone???

Birth Story

Rixa at Stand and Deliver has posted her lovely birth story - go check it out! If you haven't seen the pictures, you can see them as well here.

I hope I have a beautiful birth like she did (not to mention looking as gorgeous and stylish as she did)! Congratulations!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

21 weeks, 5 days: Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Phew.... What a weekend. What a weekend.

The past five days have probably been some of the most physically challenging in my life. How glad I am to be through them!

On Friday I was housecleaning to prepare for Saturday's houseguests. All was well, and then.... my back started hurting. Slowly, then more, and more, and more.... until I finally knew that it wasn't playing around. At first I wasn't too concerned, but it kept getting worse until Friday night when I was having serious difficulties just walking. What a nightmare!

Thankfully, this is not a new experience... this is back-injury/strain/etc. #3 for me. The last time happened when we were about 6 weeks pregnant with our very first baby. Each time has occurred when I've taken too much time off from exercising, which has definitely been the case for me since Christmas (severe nausea = no exercise). I've had a bad/painful back ever since pre-adolescence, so any time of inactivity is its cue to go nuts. And it did... big time.

From an outsider's perspective, there is definitely the humorous side to a back injury. For example, when one is lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering how on earth one is going to get out of bed..... and, once one is up, how to lie back down again! Or learning how to brush one's teeth without leaning over, or get dressed without being able to move past vertical - or a hundred other things. What a mess!

Our houseguests ended up coming as planned, and I'm afraid I was a rotten hostess. My DH did most of the entertaining, and my sweet aunt did all of the housework (dishes, cooking, etc.) as well as playing with DS while I lay in my room on the heating pad.

Here's an interesting tidbid of information: My nausea levels rose sky-high with my back injury. At first I thought it was from the pain (which was intense, and for which Tylenol did nothing to help), but then I remembered that I hadn't had nausea the other two times I'd hurt my back. I also remembered that in my HG (hyperemesis) research, I'd run across chiropractic care as a remedy for morning sickness. Interesting, isn't it? Spine out of alignment = increased nausea. Spine back in alignment = decreased nausea. I'm a believer!!!

On Sunday I had no choice but to play for service per my commitment, and it was probably one of the toughest services I've done! After staggering in (with the best pregnant waddle you've ever seen... and it wasn't even due to pregnancy!) and gingerly perching myself on the piano bench, I stayed there for the entire service, praying just to get through it. I don't think I amazed anyone with a stellar performance, but at least I made it.

The funniest part (ONLY in retrospect) was during the sermon. I was sitting on the piano bench, in massive pain and with tremendous nausea going on, trying just to keep my seat and not throw up (not that I could have moved if I'd needed to leave anyhow).... and then I started to feel like I was going to faint. You know, that hot-in-the-face but cold-and-clammy-all-over feeling.... That's when I started to panic. So I was twisting all around, making (probably) the most horrible grimaces, trying to avoid fainting/throwing up and praying for the sermon to end soon... I made it through, but what a nightmare!!

Incidentally, if you want a quick and easy way to make a grown woman cry, try sneezing or throwing up with a newly-injured back. I promise, it'll work! After sneezing once on Friday night, I began a programme of ruthless sneeze-suppression to avoid repeating the experience. Who knew that one used one's back muscles to sneeze? And when the nausea drove me to throwing up on Saturday, I also did my best to suppress that after a few times, as it is excruciatingly painful to one's back.

Thankfully I'm back to walking, and the pain is not debilitating anymore.... Just very painful. I need to get into exercising faithfully as soon as I'm able!

I found myself grateful to God for many things this weekend - small things that have made this experience easier. I was grateful that....

- We did end up having houseguests, as they were so helpful with DS
- That this injury occurred late enough in my pregnancy so that throwing up is not absolutely necessary
- That it occurred early enough for me to recover before the delivery
- That the music on Sunday was easy enough to get through while in massive pain
- That it occurred over a weekend so I could have two days of DH's help
- That our houseguests were delayed for 24 hours so that I could get used to being injured rather than having them show up in the middle of a developing back injury

Many, many things! But regardless, I am SO glad to be through this weekend!

Baby seems to be doing fine... She is very, very active and kicks continually! I love it. We see our midwives in two weeks, and I'm looking forward to that very much. I have to take this week off of my part-time job and our MOMS club activities due to the injury, but I'm looking forward to being back to normal soon.

Have a wonderful week! Love to all.

Gorgeous Birth Pictures!

Rixa at Stand and Deliver had her baby! She hasn't posted a birth story yet, but she has posted some absolutely beautiful birth photos. Check them out here! Congratulations on your new little one, Rixa!

Friday, April 24, 2009

News Post: ACNM Limits Recognition of Midwifery Care Providers

This made me sad.... I thought we were kind of past this.

Anyhow, brief history: There are two schools of American midwifery. The first, led by the ACNM (American College of Nurse Midwives) produces nurse-midwives (CNMs), practices primarily in hospital (though some do homebirths), and focuses on a university-based education. The second, led MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) and the NARM (North American Registry of Midwives), produces certified professional midwives (CPMs), practices in homebirths, and allows members to obtain their eduction in any way (self-study, university, apprenticeship). The validity of apprenticeship-training for midwives is has been a bone of contention between the two for years, though I thought that the ACNM had come a long way toward recognizing apprenticeship-trained midwives.

(You can read more about this in my article "A History of American Midwifery" - see sidebar. Personally, I favor apprenticeship-trained midwives and love both the method and the midwives that it produces).

Anyway, the ACNM has just published a statement which recognizes only the validity of university-trained midwives.... *sigh*. This means that they are acknowledging only nurse-midwives (CNMs) as 'real midwives' and discounting LM (licensed midwives) and CPMs.

To the ACNM: You are not benefiting anyone in the midwifery movement by publishing such divisive and unjustified language!

Read about it here and sign the petition to ask the ACNM to acknowledge the validity of all methods of midwifery training!

Incidentally, though, beware of being signed up for this site's action alerts, depending on your political views... I am very strongly pro-life, and after I signed up at this site a few years ago for environmental alerts, I started getting pro-choice literature constantly from them. So I use their site occasionally to support causes, but I am no longer a member.

Cheers, all!

Article: FDA Cautions Against Ultrasound 'Keepsake' Images

You can read the full text of the article here, the gist of it being that the FDA is warning against unneeded 'keepsake' ultrasounds as having no proven safety and being quite unregulated (i.e. done by non-professionals in unregulated environments).

I'm glad to see this article. But I had to say that there is one heck of a lot of flip-flopping in this article. They go back and forth with saying, "Ultrasound under a doctor's orders is completely safe with no known risks!" and "Ultrasound at one of those keepsake places is risky and has no proven safety record! Don't do it!" Ummm????? Ultrasound has never been proven completely safe under any circumstances, and just because a doctor or qualified tech is performing it doesn't mean that it's safe.

Additionally, if ultrasound is not proven safe anyway, why are doctors giving more and more and more ultrasounds? Some doctors now give them it seems about every four weeks, as well as on the fly for random reasons!

I don't have anything against needed ultrasound (not to mention that I just had one)- it's just that this article did seem a bit hypocritical. But I'm glad that they're willing to sound the alarm on keepsake sonography, which often does use higher intensity ultrasound (for 3D and 4D images) and is used quite frivolously in most cases.

Thoughts, anyone?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

21 weeks, 0 days: Checking in for Real

Gosh, the calendar is moving quickly! Just when I'm ready for time to SLOW down, it has started rushing along at the speed of light. Slow down! I want to enjoy this baby!!

We got the lovely news from our midwife this afternoon that our ultrasound results came in with an "all-clear," AND they didn't send the gender in the report! Hurray! I'm so relieved. I really wanted the gender to be a surprise for our whole birth team, and now it can be.

My nausea levels are now almost always manageable (when I remember to take my Unisom/Zofran, that is) and are only troublesome a couple of times a day. Hurray!

But this has made future thoughts of the fate of our fertility more difficult.... We have always planned that this would be baby #LAST, due to this terrible problem with morning sickness. I still feel that this is the path of wisdom.... but having had an "easier" time this time has made making that final decision in cold blood a very difficult one. I find myself mourning for the "might have beens," and if we do go ahead with the final step of ending our childbearing with this child, it is going to be HARD... but I can't stand the thought of going through this blasted nausea again.

Honestly, I'd always thought that the thought of secondary infertility was a bit silly... After all, one child is a child, right? But here I am upset over the thought of "tertiary infertility"! My goodness.

I know that there are at least 3-4 women reading this blog who have had to end their childbearing years permanently, willingly or no, because of their severe hyperemesis. How have you guys dealt with it? Any grief over future babies lost, or just relief over no more HG? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I've got a busy weekend coming up... Birth circle tonight, houseguests over the weekend, and playing for a church service on Sunday at the church where I sub. Should be interesting! Having houseguests, though, means that I will have to cook (blech!!!).... so I need to think of something (quickly!) that tastes decent but doesn't require... cooking. Hmmm. I haven't really gotten back to cooking yet, unless you count heating something out of a can... in the garage... done by my husband.

Well, I had more to write, but my toddler protesteth! So I'll save that for next time. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

20 weeks, 6 days: The Journey Continues

I realized as I awoke this morning that this month (or possibly last month) marks the four-year anniversary of our introduction into the childbearing world. What an incredible, varied, tumultuous time it has been! And it started so simply, so naively: "Hey, hon - Laura's having a baby; looks like fun, want to have one too?" "Sure, why not?" And off we blithely went, with no clue of what was before us, spiritually or physically or emotionally.

We started off with the ups and downs of a first pregnancy followed by an eight-week miscarriage. Then hardly had we recovered from both that and our move that summer when I found myself pregnant again, and had two weeks of divinest bliss before we were plunged head-first into the hellish world of hyperemesis which became our existence, waking and sleeping, for the greater part of the next year. Then the life-changing experience of natural birth, followed by the boot camp of breastfeeding, baby care and parenting (all 100% new to us) - and now we're doing it again! (Thankfully, though, without hyperemesis again!!! Thank you, God, and thank you, Zofran!!)

Along the way I discovered one of my life's greatest passions - working with and promoting homebirth midwifery and natural birth. I've discovered Phoenix's birth community and am loving every minute of it. I've experienced my greatest triumph in life - childbirth. And I've also had the greatest spiritual struggle of my existence - dealing with the fall-out of post-hyperemesis, a journey that is still on-going.

Who would have guessed that all of that would come from, "Hey, hon! Want to have a baby?" My goodness!

Did anyone else experience this?

I was talking with a dear friend of mine the other day.... We both began our exploits into childbearing at about the same time. Ours led to the above, and hers has led to the discovery of permanent infertility. She and her husband have had just as tumultuous a journey as we have, spiritually and physically, but in a completely different way. It's interesting how God hand-selects the journey for the person. And I had a thought which I shared with her - that being, that I don't believe HG would have bothered her spiritually as much as it bothered me (because she is very focused on the end-goal of children), and vice versa with infertility for me (as I'm not the overwhelmingly maternal type). God specifically chose the path for each of us that would bring us to spiritual crisis, and thereafter to a deeper faith. Not pleasant, but possibly comforting. Thoughts, anyone?

I have also been surprised to learn that spiritual journeys (from rebellion/despair/anger/etc. to deeper faith) are not the work of days or weeks - they are the work of months and years. When I hear people give testimonies, they generally say, "God gave me cancer and I was upset, but then I decided to trust him and never doubted him again!" For me, at least, that's not how it works... and I suspect for many other people as well. Things take time, and spiritual things take LOTS of time.

As a side note, I find it interesting how birth and hyperemesis contrast through the lens of time. Immediately post-birth, I could not settle the debate within myself of which (birth or HG) I would choose to go through again if I had to choose one. HG had been suffering, and birth had been pain - and I couldn't pick. But now, having some distance from both of them, the thought of another birth is of cheerful excitement and planning, while the thought of repeat HG fills me with the deepest fear, something akin to panic. It's interesting how they've sorted themselves out in the three years since I experienced them.

Anyhow, I feel like a completely different person from who I was before this journey started. I have a different type of faith, different interests, different pursuits, a different knowledge-base.... Everything has changed. I don't think I can say that about any other period in my life. Who knew that adulthood could be so shattering? My world-view conceptualization has always been that character development, etc., developed until high school graduation and then were pretty set for life. Ha! It seems to be quite the reverse. But if the first 10-years post high school have had this in store for me, what about the next ten? Or twenty? Or forty? An interesting thought.

I'll do a proper update next time. Love to all!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Birth Survey

I was very excited to read on Kathy's blog a couple of days ago that the results from The Birth Survey have been posted on their website! Check it out here.

I took this survey so long ago that I don't remember much about the actual questions, but as far as I can remember, the purpose of this survey is to provide a database of care providers and birth places so that this information will be available on to the public. On their website, they state:

"Our goal is to give women a mechanism that can be used to share information about maternity care practices in their community while at the same time providing practitioners and institutions feedback for quality of care improvement efforts.

"At the heart of the project is an on-going, online consumer survey, The Birth Survey, that asks women to provide feedback about their birth experience with a particular doctor or midwife and within a specific birth environment. Responses will be made available online to other women in their community who are deciding where and with whom to birth. Paired with this experiential data will be official statistics from state departments of health listing obstetrical intervention rates at the facility level."

I immediately went and checked out my midwife's rating, which was (not unexpectedly!) very high! She also got the most client responses of any midwife in our area - 38 (avg. was 0-5). It looks like we got a pretty good response from people in our area - there are a lot of responses about care providers and hospitals, though not as many as would be ideal. (I felt sorry for the doctors I saw who were rated 1-2 stars (out of five) based on one response only!)

However, this project is not over! It is ongoing! So if you have given birth in the past 3 years, PLEASE take a few minutes and take this survey! It's well worth your time and will be invaluable for women who come after you and for all the people in this country who are trying to improve our maternity care.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Neat Birth Video!

Well, although I've got to say that Hypnobirthing did not work at all for me, after seeing this birth video.... I'm tempted to get my Hypnobirthing CDs back out, LOL!

First-time moms, please take this video with a grain of salt.... Sometimes this happens, but usually birth hurts - and you need to expect that. Taking hypnobirthing's philosophy (that labor/birth is painless) too seriously was what made birth rather traumatic for me when I was caught off-guard by labor pain. So enjoy the video, but plan for the more common experience!

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Celebration of National Cesarean Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Cesarean Awareness Month? Spread the news! I plan to celebrate by (trying, at least) to attend my first ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Meeting) meeting (which we now have in Phoenix, by the way!).

Anyway, Missy at On the Road to a Better Birth pulled this article from a blog that we have both started reading lately, Nursing Birth, and it was great! (If you're not reading this blog, you need to be!) What better way to celebrate Cesarean Awareness than to learn how to avoid having one? Check out this article!

"Top 8 Ways to Have an Unnecessary Cesarean" (culled from Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth", with one addition from the blog's author)

(Enjoying Birth posted this as well and added a #9 entry, which you can see here.)

Thanks to Missy! :)

Article: "Industrial Childbirth"

This is a wonderful article, in which a mother writes about her mainstream experience with actively-managed birth, and how it left her angry and questioning. Here's what she says:

"I gave birth to my son at the Holles Street National Maternity Hospital, in Dublin. Obstetricians at Holles Street have pioneered a policy of "active management" – an obstetrician-led intervention process that speeds up hospital labor. It begins with ARM – artificial rupture of the membrane of the amniotic sac or "breaking the waters" – though this may leave the fetus unprotected and vulnerable to pressure and infection. It continues with monitoring the birthing women and administering to them if they aren’t progressing "correctly." In Holles Street, for example, the decided-upon correct rate of cervical dilation is 1cm/hour. If the mother "fails to progress" at this rate, she is hooked up to an Oxytocin drip which causes the onset of sudden intense contractions. In 2004 (the year I gave birth), 55 percent of first-time mothers at Holles Street were told they had "failed to progress" and needed to be sped up in this way (unsurprisingly, a slightly larger percentage opted for an epidural to ease the pain). Active management is currently used widely throughout the world."

Commenting on her experience, she says:

"Is it shocking to hear that many women liken the experience of "normal" hospital childbirth to being sexually assaulted? Aside from the obvious – the exposure of your most intimate areas to complete strangers – there is an utter lack of control over what is being done to your body. Your consent may never be sought for certain procedures – or it may be sought in the coercive manner of institutions that count on your fear for your cooperation. The feelings that may be experienced afterwards are those of shame and guilt that you weren’t able to give birth naturally, that you didn’t ask the right questions, that you gave up control and weren’t strong enough to resist certain things being done. These feelings can be particularly strong if the mother is separated from her newborn – for example, after an emergency C-section or if a baby is incubated. In some of these cases, mothers can experience bonding problems with the infant. Even once bonding is achieved, the guilt that accompanies this can be life-long."

An article well worth reading! Check it out here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Study: Homebirth Safety = Hospital Birth Safety

Many thanks to Empowering Birth blog for posting this:

Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality in a Nationwide Cohort of 529,688 Low-Risk Planned Home and Hospital Births

The results? Read it and rejoice:

"No significant differences were found between planned home and planned hospital birth (adjusted relative risks and 95% confidence intervals: intrapartum death 0.97 (0.69 to 1.37), intrapartum death and neonatal death during the first 24 hours 1.02 (0.77 to 1.36), intrapartum death and neonatal death up to 7 days 1.00 (0.78 to 1.27), admission to neonatal intensive care unit 1.00 (0.86 to 1.16)."

And the conclusion? Read it and rejoice again:

"Conclusions: This study shows that planning a home birth does not increase the risks of perinatal mortality and severe perinatal morbidity among low-risk women, provided the maternity care system facilitates this choice through the availability of well trained midwives and through a good transportation and referral system."

And check out the study size - 529, 688 births!! This is no tiny study... This is major stuff, people.

No doubt the American Medical Association and ACOG (American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists) will henceforth drop their resistance to and propaganda against homebirth and join wholeheartedly in promoting it as a valid choice for birthing women!

All right, when you've all stopped laughing hystericallyand picked yourselves up off the floor, let's get serious.... We all know that cold, hard evidence has no affect on die-hard beliefs with those who are dedicated to resisting homebirth for the simple reason that it is homebirth.... But maybe mums who are wondering about safety issues can take heart. Of course, this is not the first study proving homebirth's safety - the CPM 2000 study comes to mind. But we can always use more!

Fun stuff!!

20 weeks, 0 days: And It's a ..... Baby!!!!!

I've decided to start cross-posting from my morning sickness blog so that my birth blog will also have my pregancy/labor/birth record - my entries have started transitioning from morning sickness issues to pregnancy/birth issues, so they're more pertinent to this blog. I'll still be focusing on birth news, but I'll cross-post my pregnancy entries as well.


Yup, all done! We had our ultrasound today! Hurray! Now I can stop stressing about the ultrasound issue (and probably find something else to stress about, LOL).

Anyhow, it was rather fun. I felt like I was forging into new, uncharted territory, having never before had an ultrasound. Our tech was super-nice. I told her at the beginning how important it was to me to not find out the gender, and I must admit that a lot of the fun of the experience (most of it, really) was completely obliterated by my nervous fear that something would slip. I know most people want to find out baby's gender, but I would be heartbroken if I found out. So I had her turn off the TV screen (where one would usually watch one's scan) and didn't end up seeing anything except the pictures (gender-free!) she so sweetly printed for us at the end. I was sorry not to see baby's scan, but I would have been much, much more disappointed if I'd watched the scan and seen something I didn't want to see. So I ended up escaping knowledge-less, which was a big relief.

Baby definitely didn't like the scan - she (a random pronoun) was moving around constantly during it! It didn't help that I had all the information I'd ever read about ultrasound running through my mind, but I focused on the fact that I had prayed about this decision and felt that it was the right choice for this pregnancy.

DH was planning on being there with us, but due to a few slip-ups on the part of various parties didn't get to make it into the room. I wasn't sorry - after all, I didn't get so see any more than he did - and since he is a wee bit more curious than I am (he wouldn't mind knowing the gender) and wouldn't be able to keep a secret (I know), I didn't want him peering around to the screen constantly and finding something out. So it worked out well for everyone!

I'm glad to have it over with. We won't hear results for probably a week or so. I'm just hoping that the gender won't be on the results sent to our midwife! We want our birth team to have a surprise too.

If I ever have another baby (very unlikely) I'm hoping that I won't get this urge to have an ultrasound again, because it is nerve-wracking! Having done it both ways, I know now that I'd rather just not have one at all - but I really felt this time that I needed to, for whatever reason. So hopefully that need wouldn't arise again!

Love to all! Signing off for the night.....

Spanish Commercial - Featuring a Homebirth!

I found this commercial absolutely amazing - in that it was shown on public television! (In Spain, that is.) And no, American audiences could NOT take this - we are way too grossed out by birth to tolerate it (though this is one of the most peaceful and clean births I've seen). Check it out here!

Many thanks to Jill at the Unnecesarean for this post! (Jill, I'm copying way too much of your stuff lately... I need to hook up with your info sources so I can stop being a blog-leech!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Various Birth News

I have a lot of articles and only a few minutes, so I'm condensing!

Most of these I gleaned off of various birth blogs, so I will do my best to give credit where it is due. Some things I saw on multiple blogs, so I'll give credit to where I saw it first.


(1) Can't remember where I saw this first, but I was reminded of it by Kathy on "Woman to Woman Childbirth Education" - a newly discovered birth blog, written by an L&D nurse. Check it out!

Nursing Birth

She has lots of great articles and news stories, AND she is currently writing a series of priceless real-life hospital birth stories entitled, "Don't Let This Happen to You." I've only read a couple, but they are GREAT - packed with information and really an education in themselves. Read them regardless, but read them especially if you are planning a hospital birth - they will show you what you want to avoid and how to work with the system and avoid the pitfalls. Check it out!

(2) News Article, with thanks to Rixa at Stand and Deliver: "Stand and Deliver? Upright Positions Reduce Pain, Speed Birth" published in the Cochrane Database. Here are some quotes from the article:

Women who walk, sit, kneel or otherwise avoid lying in bed during early labor can shorten the first stage of labor by about an hour, according to a new Cochrane evidence review. Women who labored out of bed during the early stages were also 17 percent less likely to seek pain relief through epidural analgesia, the review found.

"This shortens labor by about an hour and, for a lot of women, an hour would be really important," said Teri Stone-Godena, director of midwifery at the Yale School of Nursing, who had no affiliation with the review.....

So why would staying out of bed shorten labor and reduce pain?

"Women who are upright and mobile are able to change their positions more easily," said Annemarie Lawrence, lead review author and a research midwife at the Institute of Women's and Children's Health at Townsville Hospital in Queensland, Australia.

"The ability to change positions, to utilize a wider variety of positions, and try other options, such as hot showers, birthing balls and beanbag supports, may help reduce overall pain and give women a greater sense of control over the progress of their labor," she said.

When women are upright, there is also more room for the baby to move downward because the diameter of the pelvis expands slightly. This puts less pressure on nerves in the spine, which could mean less pain.

"It may also be that women are more distractible when up and moving around," Stone-Godena said. "When you are lying there looking at clock, it's a lot different from being up and about."

Being upright allows gravity to help the baby make her way into the world. Lawrence said, "The physiological advantages of upright positions and mobility include the effective use of gravity, which aids in the descent of the baby's head. As the head is applied more directly and evenly against the cervix, the regularity, frequency, strength and therefore efficiency of uterine contractions are intensified."

When the mom-to-be moves, this also helps the baby to get into the best position to hasten birth. "This improves its alignment for passage through the pelvis," Lawrence said. "There is also a psychological advantage associated with the belief that being upright and mobile empowers women to actively participate in their birth experience and maintain a sense of control."

Other research has found that feeling in control and able to make choices reduces pain and psychological distress in general.

In contrast, however, lying flat on one's back during labor can put a great deal of pressure on the blood vessels in the abdomen. "There is widely accepted physiological evidence that the supine position may be harmful in late pregnancy and labor," Lawrence said.

According to the reviewers, the supine position puts the entire weight of the pregnant uterus on the blood vessels that supply oxygen to both mother and child, which could potentially lead to problems with heart functioning in the mother and reduced oxygen to the baby. These outcomes could be serious in extreme cases. Lying on one's side has no link with such problems, however.

Stone-Godena said that despite all the attention given to empowering women to have the type of birth experience they prefer, medical professionals still pressure women into lying in bed during labor, because it is more convenient this way for nurses and doctors and makes fetal monitoring easier.

"I think this research is very vindicating of women being allowed to assume positions of comfort," she said. "Listening to their bodies is what they need to do. Most of time when we limit people's activity, it isn't for reasons that are soundly based on evidence."

She added, "This clearly shows that there are no advantages in staying in bed unless that's where you want to be."

(3) BBC News Article, with thanks to Jill at the Unnecesarean: "Homebirths 'As Safe' As Hospital"

As if we didn't already know! But it's nice when the media admits it. Quoting from the article:

"Research from the Netherlands - which has a high rate of home births - found no difference in death rates of either mothers or babies in 530,000 births.

Home births have long been debated amid concerns about their safety.

UK obstetricians welcomed the study - published in the journal BJOG - but said it may not apply universally.

The number of mothers giving birth at home in the UK has been rising since it dipped to a low in 1988. Of all births in England and Wales in 2006, 2.7% took place at home, the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed.

The research was carried out in the Netherlands after figures showed the country had one of the highest rates in Europe of babies dying during or just after birth.

It was suggested that home births could be a factor, as Dutch women are able and encouraged to choose this option. One third do so.

But a comparison of "low-risk" women who planned to give birth at home with those who planned to give birth in hospital with a midwife found no difference in death or serious illness among either baby or mother.

"We found that for low-risk mothers at the start of their labour it is just as safe to deliver at home with a midwife as it is in hospital with a midwife," said Professor Simone Buitendijk of the TNO Institute for Applied Scientific Research.

"These results should strengthen policies that encourage low-risk women at the onset of labour to choose their own place of birth."


And now I'm off to bed! Good night, everyone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Congratulations to the World's Newest VBA3C Mother!

I have the great pleasure of announcing another new member of the VBA3C club! My sincerest congratulations go to C., an online acquaintance of mine who had her fourth baby naturally on Sunday morning. What an incredible achievement! VBAC mums, you are an inspiration to all of us!!

Personal Post: Pregnancy Journey

I realized lately how odd it is that I am not chronicling my pregnancy on this blog! I have kept it on my other blog, my morning sickness blog, as that seemed more pertinent at the time we found out we were pregnant. I'll probably keep my pregnancy record there, though I may start cross-posting entries at some point. But for those of you who didn't know, yes, we are pregnant! We are at 19 1/2 weeks right now. This is baby #3 for us (one baby miscarried, and we have one son), and we are planning our second homebirth with our terrific, wonderful, and amazing midwife team. I am really looking forward to it! I have set 20 weeks as my "hit the ground running" deadline for lining up my birth team, getting into labor/birth exercises, starting to study, etc. (I always study madly to prepare for anything... it's my stress-reliever.) I'm having a ton of fun with this second baby, especially now that I'm feeling better, and I'll post any interesting tidbits here in this blog - and, as I said, I may start cross-posting entries as we move along the way. After all, this is a homebirth blog!

Media Review: "Sacred Birth"

"Sacred Birth"
16 minutes

This is a very short film comprising a short sequence of labor shots and really good, clear footage of the birth. There is also footage of a ceremony with the family burying the placenta, and then lots of footage recaps (the birth scene is shown three times). The entire film takes place outside, with the woman giving birth in the garden.

The birth footage is excellent, for a really weird reason - Although the woman labors upright, squatting, when her husband comes to catch the baby, she immediately lays on her back to give birth - so the camera gets great footage of the birth. Usually homebirths don't have the clearest birth footage because they occur in darkened rooms and with the mum in upright positions (not the best for cinematography) or birthing underwater. Because the mum births on her back in full sunlight, this is probably one of the clearest homebirth footage sequences you'll see.

In this video, the mother speaks directly to the camera several times (in Spanish, with subtitles). There is also a large amount of text put on the screen... Your appreciation of this part will probably depend on your personal/religious views. My husband and I found it somewhat amusing, as it was rather "far-out New Age" - but to each his own.

I recommend this video for the labor/birth footage which is great, though brief. We enjoyed this film!

Birth Video: The Birth of Judah Darwin

This is a really nice video that was posted last fall. I've watched it several times, and I love the labor footage. I think they skip the actual birth moment, but it's still a great video. Check it out!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Homebirth Story, Cartoon-Style

Many thanks to Rixa at "Stand and Deliver" for posting the link to this - a homebirth humorously told by cartoon! Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Breastfeeding Mix-up Article: Why, Why, Why?

A midwife friend posted this on facebook this morning:

Wrong Mom Breastfeeds Baby in Hospital Mix-up

Take a look at it. When I finished reading it, I wasn't quite sure whether to laugh or throw things at the computer screen.

The main gist of the story is the fury of the baby's father, who calls the incident (in which another woman breastfed his infant by mistake), "every parent's worst nightmare." He rants throughout the entire article about the "tragedy" - "'We're, ahhh," the father said, his voice trembling, "I can't even put it into words. My wife has been physically sick. I'm trying to support her. I think it's every parent's nightmare.'"

Okay, a few points....

(1) Um.... every parent's worst nightmare? Well, I must admit that I have lain awake countless nights thinking about the possibility (oh, horror!) of some other woman breastfeeding my baby. I don't worry about things like, you know, child molestation, crib death, child kidnapping, drownings, car accidents, or any such lesser evils - I just worry about another woman nursing my newborn!

(2) The possibility of any disease passing through breast milk to an infant during one feeding is so small as to be almost zero.

(3) What do you think milk banks and milk donations are about? Babies drinking other mothers' milk. It happens.

(4) The mess-up here is about baby switching. Pure and simple. Not breastmilk switching.

(5) The newspaper writes this article in a purely tabloid-style fashion. The least they could have done would have been to tone down the sensationalism and put the matter into perspective. Poor job on their part.

For my part, though I understand the couple's being upset over the (brief) baby swap, I was absolutely disgusted at the father's attitude, words, random complaints (he was worried because the other baby's father might have had a jail record?), and hysteria over what was a minor incident - his baby getting one feeding from another woman.

I wondered briefly if this might be tied into the weird fixation that society has over breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in public is seen as obscene; breastfeeding past baby's one-year birthday is seen as indecent. It kind of seems that breastfeeding is really seen as a sexual act that is tolerated when baby is "gender-less" (i.e. not manifesting many symptoms of its gender), but unacceptable as baby gains personality and gender traits. The man in the above article was really acting as if his wife (or his baby) had been raped - and seeing breastfeeding as a sexual act could definitely lead in that direction.

Anyway, it's weird... Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Audrey Caroline

Today is the one-year anniversary of the birth and death of baby Audrey Caroline, whose mother Angie has written of her journey with infant loss in the now world-famous blog "Bring the Rain". Today she writes an entry remembering the two and a half hours she was able to spend with her daughter after her birth before her little one died. This blog has changed and is changing my life in so many ways, and I am so thankful for Angie's courage in letting us share her journey. Thank you, Angie, and happy birthday, Baby Audrey.

Introducing Another Arizona Birth Blog!

Check out this lovely birth blog from an Arizona mama - "On the Path to a Better Birth" It's just great! She is a c-section mother who is researching and preparing for future VBAC births. She's got lots of great thoughts and information, and I am enjoying reading her material very much. Check it out!

Arizona Birth Event: International Midwives' Day

Come on out and help celebrate! Our local midwifery community (midwives, birth professionals, clients, and everyone else) will be meeting to celebrate International Midwives' Day at Papago Park on May 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Look for the festivities at Pavilions 9 & 10. Contact the Arizona Birth Network for more information! Should be fun! I'll be there with DS (hubbie will be working). We're looking forward to it!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lovely Homebirth Story!

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce a lovely Arizona birth blog which I just found, "Birth Faith." Check out her wonderful blog!

She has just posted her birth story from her birth earlier this week, her first homebirth, and it is great. Check it out here.

I love this quote from her story:

"I don’t think there is any other physical experience that brings a person closer to the veil between earth and heaven than childbirth."

So true!! Congratulations, new mama!

Arizona Mama's Homebirth

The Arizona Republic (online version) published a homebirth story and picture show; here they are:

Slide Show

For the most part, pretty good! I've been really impressed with the Arizona Republic's willingness to publish natural birth articles this week.

A couple of complaints, though...

(1) The pics they show focus somewhat on the sensational - like the mom screaming in pain. Most people are not ready for these pictures. Indeed, most mamas don't print those kind of pictures anyway!!

(2) The scene really has a hippie feel to it, especially the dad, who has long hair and a long beard and is shirtless. For most mainstream birthers, this is going to be a big turnoff.

I think that if I were to advise a re-do on this shoot, I would have them hire a professional photographer to focus more on the beauty of homebirth, and to keep the shots more modest. I personally am completely comfortable with total female nudity in the labor/birth scene, but most people are NOT. I read some of the reader comments on this article, and had to stop reading pretty quickly because they made me so angry. Most were along the lines of, "That is so gross!" "Weird!" "That was disgusting!" etc. I think those of us in the birth world who are accustomed to birth pictures and birth art forget that it is a learned taste. The mainstream public is not going to be able to dive head-first into birth photography and find beauty there. This article has hopefully done some good, but it has likely also done some harm - by driving the idea of homebirth further into the "those stupid hippies who don't care about their babies" niche in the mainstream mind.

Of course, if these pics were taken by a newspaper photographer, then the parents/midwife probably didn't have much say in which pics were chosen - and a newspaper photographer probably would want to focus more on the sensational than the beautiful.

It might also have been nice if the paper had published a more thorough article focusing on explaining what is going on and on the safety and training of midwives and midwife-attended birth.

But still, good job to the paper and to the family! It takes guts to be willing to be willing to publish nude pics in your hometown paper! And I'm very grateful that the paper was willing to publish this material.

Thoughts, anyone? I'd be interested to get input from both those who are used to homebirth pics/stories and those to whom this material is new.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jennifer Block's Response to "Extreme Birth" Article

A while ago, New York magazine published an article on homebirth titled "Extreme Birth" which turned out to be nothing more than a character assassination of Cara Muhlhahn, the featured midwife in "The Business of Being Born" and a put-down of homebirth. Now Jennifer Block, author of "Pushed," has published a wonderful come-back article rebutting the claims made by the original article's author. Check out her article here.

Many thanks to Empowering Birth Blog for posting this article!